Ellie Ji Yang’s joyful and colourful paintings explore the rhythms of the natural world. Brought up in Gwang-ju, a city in South Korea “that balances city and nature”, Ellie was surrounded by “greenery and small forests” from a young age. “Connected to nature, my memories of these places are the foundation of my imagination”, she tells us. Now based in Brooklyn, NYC, Ellie’s paintings vividly recall her childhood, creating idyllic, vibrant scenes, pointedly absent of anything human-made. Many of her works include animals reminiscent of Asian culture and symbolism, while others showcase worlds containing mysterious prehistoric and religious references.
“I feel that nature is much more raw and rhythmical than human-created landscapes”, Ellie tells It’s Nice That, “and I want to pursue melodic works”. Inspired by spirituality, including the strange and mysterious temples of Korea, her works are all about provoking a “cheerful and peaceful energy”. The depicted scenes conjure up a sense of calm, creating dazzling Edens that any spectator would be eager to escape to. “I always prefer building new utopias with my own language”, the artist tells us, “even though imagining alternate universes and futures is more challenging, I’m much happier with the result when the piece is completed”. In our current political climate, with the world seemingly going from bad to worse, these paintings provide the perfect escape. Ellie’s art is about imagining something better, realigning ourselves with a natural world that we’ve so detrimentally distanced ourselves from.
Talking to us about her creative process, Ellie explains, “I do not start out with a specific plan; I begin with a line, and that develops into a scene. I let the elements react to one another on the surface and inform what will come next”. Her work is all about this type of organic growth; like a flower, her works blossom and changes. This process is crucial to Ellie for many reasons, but perhaps most important is the longevity it offers her art: “I create my work with this unfiltered raw approach because I believe rawness can never get old”.